Document Detail

Methylmercury and brain development: imprecision and underestimation of developmental neurotoxicity in humans.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  21259267     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Methylmercury is now recognized as an important developmental neurotoxicant, though this insight developed slowly over many decades. Developmental neurotoxicity was first reported in a Swedish case report in 1952, and from a serious outbreak in Minamata, Japan, a few years later. Whereas the infant suffered congenital poisoning, the mother was barely harmed, thus reflecting a unique vulnerability of the developing nervous system. Nonetheless, exposure limits for this environmental chemical were based solely on adult toxicity until 50 years after the first report on developmental neurotoxicity. Even current evidence is affected by uncertainty, most importantly by imprecision of the exposure assessment in epidemiological studies. Detailed calculations suggest that the relative imprecision may be as much as 50%, or greater, thereby substantially biasing the results toward the null. In addition, as methylmercury exposure usually originates from fish and seafood that also contains essential nutrients, so-called negative confounding may occur. Thus, the beneficial effects of the nutrients may appear to dampen the toxicity, unless proper adjustment is included in the analysis to reveal the true extent of adverse effects. These problems delayed the recognition of low-level methylmercury neurotoxicity. However, such problems are not unique, and many other industrial compounds are thought to cause developmental neurotoxicity, mostly with less epidemiological support than methylmercury. The experience obtained with methylmercury should therefore be taken into account when evaluating the evidence for other substances suspected of being neurotoxic.
Philippe Grandjean; Katherine T Herz
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural; Review    
Journal Detail:
Title:  The Mount Sinai journal of medicine, New York     Volume:  78     ISSN:  1931-7581     ISO Abbreviation:  Mt. Sinai J. Med.     Publication Date:    2011 Jan-Feb
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2011-01-24     Completed Date:  2011-05-24     Revised Date:  2014-09-24    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0241032     Medline TA:  Mt Sinai J Med     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  107-18     Citation Subset:  IM    
Copyright Information:
© 2011 Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
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MeSH Terms
Brain / drug effects*
Child, Preschool
Methylmercury Compounds / toxicity*
Grant Support
ES09797/ES/NIEHS NIH HHS; P30 ES000002/ES/NIEHS NIH HHS; R01 ES009797/ES/NIEHS NIH HHS; R01 ES009797-07/ES/NIEHS NIH HHS; R01 ES009797-08/ES/NIEHS NIH HHS; R01 ES009797-09/ES/NIEHS NIH HHS; R01 ES009797-10/ES/NIEHS NIH HHS; R01 ES009797-11/ES/NIEHS NIH HHS; U01 ES009797/ES/NIEHS NIH HHS; U01 ES009797-01A1/ES/NIEHS NIH HHS; U01 ES009797-01A1S1/ES/NIEHS NIH HHS; U01 ES009797-02/ES/NIEHS NIH HHS; U01 ES009797-03/ES/NIEHS NIH HHS; U01 ES009797-04/ES/NIEHS NIH HHS; U01 ES009797-05/ES/NIEHS NIH HHS; U01 ES009797-06/ES/NIEHS NIH HHS
Reg. No./Substance:
0/Methylmercury Compounds

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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